Choosing Joy

birthday party


When you have suffered loss, the special days of the year are often the hard days.  It can be easy to fear or dread them.  Grief has a way of poking it’s head into any potentially happy and memory building event, almost as if it is taunting, “You will never to happy again!” I have personally struggled to learn how to find happiness and see the joy over the sadness. I find that it is something I have to choose to see.

Amy, a widow friend of mine, is a great example to me of choosing joy.  She posted this story about her son’s birthday party and gave me permission to share it.

“It was an emotional afternoon throwing a birthday party for my son. The party was at one of those trampoline, foam pit kind of places. The kids were having a blast, I was taking pictures and helping the kids. Then I sat down for a minute, and while watching all the kids, I felt so alone not having someone there to enjoy the cuteness and excitement of these kids. The tears started to come.

I couldn’t believe it! What? No, I did not want tears during the b-day party?! After a little cry, I decided instead of sitting down to watch, I needed to join in on the fun! I changed out of my jeans into athletic clothing and not long later I was flying from the trapeze bar into foam pits, walking on tight ropes and twirling in the air jumping on trampolines!

I need to remember this lesson I learned: Although it’s ok to feel the sadness when it hits, I’m so glad I didn’t just sit there and wallow in the sadness. It’s better to go and do something, whether it’s exercise, serving others or flying on trapeze bars! This is my life, not just to endure and get through, but to choose to enjoy!”

I love Amy’s choice to live.  This was one small moment of choosing joy over wallowing. We have to celebrate when we find the strength to do that.

Special days are difficult and it’s normal to expect triggers on these days. Thoughts and emotions will come, but we always have the power to choose how we will respond in those moments.  When we choose to live, we choose to empower ourselves.  We gain control instead of remaining victims.  

Every choice we make to live life will aid us in making future choices.  Those positive choices build and they strengthen us.  They put us on the path to healing.

Another widow, Michele, commented, “So I’m taking a page out of your book–I’ll be participating in whatever makes me cry from now on.”  I second her resolution to choose to live.

Part of the journey of healing involves tears… It involves shedding them and then courageously choosing joy.  There have been moments when I have done this, and I have felt a profound gratitude.  I have felt a deeper and more real appreciation and love for the people in my life now, than I have ever felt before my husband died.  It’s as if we have to feel sorrow in order to better understand or feel love.

 I want to feel more of that love and joy in my life and I know it is gifted to me by the Spirit when I courageously choose to live.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. How can you better choose joy in moments when you feel sorrow?


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